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After a week in the spotlight, Keane is happy to stay in the shadows

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Roy Keane awaits the kick-off of Ireland's friendly against the USA. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Roy Keane awaits the kick-off of Ireland's friendly against the USA. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

Roy Keane awaits the kick-off of Ireland's friendly against the USA. Photo: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Keane watch: 7.40pm - His career has been largely defined by controversial exits so there was something ironic about the fact that Roy Keane's entrance into the Aviva Stadium last night was as low key as it gets.

All week the headlines had screamed his name. KEANE ROWS WITH FAN. KEANE ARGUES WITH PRESS. KEANE TAKES POP AT EVERTON.

"For someone who claims he doesn't like the limelight, he certainly knows where the switch is," Jason McAteer once said of his former team-mate.

So last night he stepped away from the spotlight, quietly taking his seat in the Ireland dug-out, two seats to Martin O'Neill's right, sandwiched in between Steve Walford and Steve Guppy.

Sitting with his legs crossed, he smiled easily during a quiet conversation with Walford and the face that looked haunted and angry during a heated exchange with journalists on Sunday, had a much more relaxed appearance. If the last week has stressed him, then it clearly didn't show.

7.52pm - A move that begins in the Ireland half ends with Anthony Pilkington lofting the ball over Bill Hamid, the American goalkeeper, to break the deadlock and provide the home fans with as good a goal as the Aviva has seen in a year or two.

And it is the only time Keane leaves his seat during the first half to generously applaud both the quality of the passage of play and the final finish, before, ten seconds later, he retakes his seat.

And that is where he stays for the rest of the half. Significantly, though, the TV camera zones in on him twice during that half and at times like this, it is worth remembering that Keane is no more than an assistant manager, the same title Marco Tardelli, Liam Brady, Chris Hughton and Ian Evans once held.

Yet none of the above generated anywhere near the publicity Keane (right) has.

And you wonder how this is. After all, eight years have passed since he last played and his subsequent forays into management may have been mixed. Yet he remains box office.

Last week, he was back page once again, hence the need for the director to instruct the cameraman to point his lens at Keane's face.

8.24pm - Mix Diskerud equalises for the United States after a move which said much for the visitors' attacking ambitions but little for our defensive shape. Keane sits motionless through it all.

8.58pm - Robbie Brady cleverly lifts the ball over Hamid to restore Ireland's lead, and Keane, again, is on his feet, punching the air with delight. Four seconds later he sits down. The passion may still burn but this is just a friendly and he knows its place in the greater scheme of things.

9.24pm - Shane Long's break down the left-hand side brings Keane back to his feet. As Long closes in on goal, Keane stretches his neck in anticipation of what lies ahead. The shot strikes and upright and Keane turns around and dips his head in a show of disappointment. Moments later, James McClean scores, however, and the Corkman punches the air for a third time. Three minutes after that, Brady scores the fourth goal and once again he stands up to cheer. Then he sat down for a final time. His, and Ireland's, work had been done.

Irish Independent